Israeli Attack Kills Over 22 Palestinians Near ICRC’s Office In Gaza

  • Red Cross raises alarm over attack
  • Health Ministry says attack targets displaced people’s tents
  • Israeli Military explains report ‘under review’
A woman and girl crying after deadly attack hits a tent encampment in al-Mawasi, Gaza

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says not less than 22 people have been killed in a shelling attack that damaged its Gaza office, which is surrounded by hundreds of displaced Palestinians living in tents.

This is as the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run territory reports that over 25 deaths have been recorded and 50 injured in the shelling, which it blamed on Israel.

The Ministry said Israeli shelling on Friday had “targeted the tents of the displaced in the al-Mawasi area”, which is around the ICRC base.

Witnesses said that some people were killed as they went to help others who panicked after an initial bombardment.

The ICRC did not say who fired the “heavy-calibre projectiles” but in a statement on social media platform X said the shells “damaged the structure of the ICRC office”.

It said 22 bodies and 45 wounded had been taken to a nearby Red Cross field hospital after the shelling, and there were “reports of additional casualties”.

Al-Mawasi had been designated as a humanitarian “safe zone” by Israel and thousands of people had fled there following Israel’s assault on the southern city of Rafah.

According to Ahmed Radwan, a spokesperson for Civil Defence first responders in Rafah, witnesses told rescue workers that shelling had taken place at two locations in the coastal area, which is filled with makeshift tents.

Also, reports indicated that locations of the attacks provided by the Civil Defence appeared to be just outside the safe zone.

The Israeli military said the episode was under review but that “there is no indication that a strike was carried out by the IDF” inside the safe zone, using an acronym for the Israeli forces. It did not provide details on the episode or say what the intended targets might have been.

Israel has previously bombed locations in the vicinity of al-Muwasi, a rural area with no water or sewage systems and where Palestinians have been living in desperate conditions.

“Two tanks climbed a hilltop overseeing Mawasi and they sent balls of fire that hit the tents of the poor people displaced in the area,” one resident told the news agency Reuters over a chat app.

Other witnesses whose relatives died in one of the bombardments near the Red Cross field hospital told AP that Israeli forces fired a second volley that killed people who came out of their tents.

The attack began with a munition that only made a loud bang and bright flash, said Mona Ashour, who lost her husband after he went to investigate what was happening.

“We were in our tent and they hit with a ‘sound bomb’ near the Red Cross tents, and then my husband came out at the first sound,” Ashour said, holding back tears while clutching a young girl outside Nasser Hospital in nearby Khan Younis.

“And then they hit with the second one, which was a little closer to the entrance of the Red Cross,” she said.

Hasan al-Najjar said his sons were killed helping people who panicked after the first strike.

“My two sons went after they heard the women and children screaming,” he said at the hospital. “They went to save the women, and they struck with the second projectile, and my sons were martyred. They struck the place twice.”

The attack comes less than a month after an Israeli bombing triggered a deadly fire that tore through a camp for displaced Palestinians in southern Gaza, drawing widespread international outrage – including from some of Israel’s closest allies – over the military’s expanding offensive into Rafah.

The ICRC said: “Heavy-calibre projectiles landed within metres of the office and residences of the International Committee of the Red Cross on Friday afternoon.

“Firing so dangerously close to humanitarian structures, of whose locations the parties to the conflict are aware and which are clearly marked with the Red Cross emblem, puts the lives of civilians and Red Cross staff at risk,” the body added.

“This grave security incident is one of several in recent days.

“Previously stray bullets have reached ICRC structures,” it said. “We decry these incidents that put the lives of humanitarians and civilians at risk.”

Palestinian health officials said in total at least 45 Palestinians were killed in Israeli strikes across Gaza on Friday.

More than 37,551 people have been killed and 85,911 wounded in the Israel offensive on Gaza since October 7, 2023, according to Palestinian Health authorities.

The Health authorities also alleged than thousands more are believed to be buried under the rubble and tens of thousands wounded. Also, nearly the entire population of more than 2 million people has been left homeless and destitute.

The revised death toll in Israel from the Hamas-led attacks stands at 1,139, with dozens of people still held captive in Gaza.

The ICRC has made increasingly desperate calls for Israel and Hamas to respect international law and protect civilians caught in the midst of the conflict that erupted with the 7 October Hamas attack on Israel.

Calling on both sides to do more to protect civilians “regardless of which side they are on”, the ICRC president, Mirjana Spoljaric, said it was “the line between humanity and barbarity”. – With contributions from AP, Reuters and AFP

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